I love a great sports romance, probably because it’s almost impossible to find a hero who isn’t incredibly confident and physically fit (six packs are a given, right?). Add to that the intricacies of a specific game and the challenges to a relationship with a public figure and you have a built-in conflict for the couple to overcome. Perfect.
That said, the best sports romances are the ones where the writer is damn smart about whatever game they have chosen as a focus. I don’t need a rulebook, but show me that you know your sport and that world becomes that much more believable. Great sports romance writers like Jaci Burton in her Play-by-Play series, Jill Shalvis’ Pacific Heat books, and most recently Alison Packard embarking on her new series featuring the San Francisco Blaze baseball team, all have that combination of intelligent detail and heartfelt emotion that make their books a winner.
Well, ladies, you’ve got one more member in the clubhouse, and she comes with a decidedly international flair. Kat Latham has just had her first book published by Carina Press, Knowing the Score, and MY GOD, it’s fantastic! Latham, a California native who lives in the Netherlands with her British husband, has traveled all of the world working as a writer for nonprofits specializing in human rights. I’m going to go out on a limb that she’s probably a pretty terrific person based on her altruistic interests and the fact that she sounds nice on her blog. Did I mention she just had a baby in April? What can this woman not do?
Knowing the Score could not have a more terrific premise. Spencer Bailey is a rugby superstar still haunted by an incident in his long distant past. Abandoned by his mom to the care of his grandparents, he’s horrified when his elderly grandfather is in the hospital from a heart attack. Luckily some good samaritan happened across him and gave him CPR until the ambulance arrived. When the curly haired redhead appears in the hospital room, Spencer is ready to do what it takes to get this gorgeous creature in his bed. He has strict rules that he only has sex in the off-season so as not to distract him from rugby (or chance a scandal while he’s playing) and the clock is ticking.
Caitlyn Sweeney may be a twenty-seven year old virgin, but she’s no fool. Spencer is sex-on-a-stick and she has no idea that he’s famous, despite walking past his underwear billboard advertisement everyday. If she can just turn off the negative voices and fear in her head, she knows that he would turn her on like a lightbulb, but she’s not sure that she’s capable of working past all the baggage she’s carried around for years. Her job at an international aid organization is rewarding but her Visa expires in December, so when she hears that Spencer is more than happy to patiently coax her along and that he only wants something for the off-season, it’s the perfect answer to her “rid me of this hymen already” prayers!
What neither expect is how much they end up liking and admiring one another. And that feeling, combined with the trust and intimacy involved with the physical side of their relationship, results in both of them falling fast without knowing if there’s a real future with each other. Add to the mix that both Spencer and Caitlyn are keeping some pretty big secrets in reserve and this happily ever after might go off the rails quickly.
I cannot say enough about how much I adored this book! Spencer was wicked sexy, a man scarred by his past errors in judgment, who is so clearly smitten with Caitlyn (her obliviousness regarding his fame and his sport delights him) that he’s often unsure as to what he’s actually feeling. Caitlyn has had a crap childhood followed by a pretty awful young adulthood so – unlike too many of these stories involving older modern virgins – it’s very understandable that she’s waited until now to trust someone enough to have sex with them. I loved her work as well as her modesty and anyone reading this book has to also appreciate the delightful character of Spencer’s elderly grandfather, who is adorable in his machinations.
This book represents the first in a series, London Legends, and all I can say is THANK YOU!!! I’m not sure I could manage this novel as a one-off. Please note that ebook readers usually start you at the first page, which means that you’ve missed the introductory note from the author where she gives you some vocabulary regarding rugby. Unless you are a rugby aficionado, I suggest you read it before you start, otherwise you’re going to be more than a little lost. (A hooker is not what you think it is.)
I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed I won’t have to wait too long for the next book in this series. Knowing the Score is going into my reread pile, for sure, and at a mere three dollars and change I would say every sports romance enthusiast needs to get off their bum and purchase this ebook post-haste.
Many thanks to Kat Latham for writing such a terrific romance!